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Bus users urged to have their say in funding consultation

Hampshire County Council is looking to make deep cuts in public transport spending and a consultation has been launched to collect opinions

Stagecoach bus
Bus services could be reduced by the council

Bus users are being urged to speak up and convince Hampshire County Council of the value of public transport, as a consultation is held over potential funding cuts.

Under proposals by the council, Sunday and evening services after 7pm could be reduced or cease altogether while other services may run less frequently.

The council needs to cut between £1.25million and £1.5million from its current £5.7million spending on public and community transport by 2015/16.

The public consultation was therefore launched this month in order to collect opinions.

The bus and community transport review will only take into account the 22% of services across the county which are subsidised and receive funding from the council.

In Rushmoor and Hart, these are the Fleet Buzz services in Fleet and Farnborough, and Stagecoach bus services stopping in areas such as Aldershot, Frimley, Camberley, Ash Vale and Hartley Wintney.

Other money-saving options being considered are reducing the amount of printed publicity in favour of online information or running community transport services and ‘taxishares’, whereby passengers book their journey in advance and travel by taxi rather than bus.

The council also spends £13.4 million on concessionary fares for elderly, disabled and companion passengers and a further option could result in older persons’ bus passes not being accepted for some journeys.

Concerned that many in the area are unaware of the consultation, Farnborough resident Kevin Pizzey, 53, is encouraging more people to offer their thoughts to the council.

Mr Pizzey, who lives in Purmerend Close, has been forced to use bus services for the past six months after suffering a heart arrhythmia, which prevented him from driving, and injuring his elbow by falling off his bicycle.

He said the experience, mainly of using the Fleet Buzz service, had ‘opened his eyes’ to the value of public transport which he used to get to hospital appointments or train transfers.

“Although this won’t affect me, other people who rely on buses will be hit,” he said. “People need to be aware of what’s in the pipeline.

“People need to speak. If they do speak, nothing may happen, but at least we will be going into it with our eyes open.”

Councillor Mark Staplehurst, who represents Farnborough West on the council, is planning to organise a meeting in conjunction with the council for north east Hampshire bus users to allow them the chance to share their views and become more informed about the process.

He said he was hoping to prevent the cuts from happening as well as campaigning for a more reliable service in the area.

The consultation runs until May 31 and forms are available on www.hants.gov.uk/transportconsultation2014 or by calling 01962 846785.

 
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